Have you ever had a perfect moment? One where you think “I will remember this for the rest of my life!” I had one of those perfect moments while enjoying a rare one-on-one date with my fifteen year old son at Universal Studios amusement park this past weekend. Let me preface this store by saying that I am quite afraid of heights and any rides that fall suddenly from tall heights, such as Dr. Doom at Universal Studios. So when my son asked me to ride his favorite ride, Dr. Doom, I was facing a battle between my fear and my desire to connect with my son. At first, I gave into my anxiety and tried to convince my son to ride alone while I wait. He wouldn’t have it and said, “Mom, I would rather stay with you.” Hearing those words helped me find the courage to face my fear and honor what I value most, relationship. I heard myself reply, “No, I am riding this ride and facing my fear with courage like you have so many times son.” In my heart I wondered if I really could. I knew that I had asked him to do things he feared so many times and he had done them and grown for it. It was my turn to practice what I preach. My unforgettable moment was looking at his face after we dropped, went up to drop again, and we were all smiles and laughter. Of course, it wasn’t as scary as I imagined it would be, and it ended up being my favorite ride all day.
Why do I pick this experience for today’s post? Because it contains key elements that come into play at those pivotal moments that define who we become. Do we choose to move forward with faith or do we choose to be hindered by fear? After all, perfect moments don’t just show up, but instead perfect moments are created one courageous step at a time. Moreover, perfection is found in reality, not in imagined states in which we do not struggle. You see, my nagging fear kept telling me to shrink from taking this new step, but I wanted to have a new experience with my son more, so I chose to override that fear with courage. It took all of my skills including: deep diagram breathing, affirmations that “you are really safe,” and even some healthy distraction like looking around and people watching, just to gradually take steps forward in line. The moment of choice came, as it always does, and I had to choose to do the thing that most scares me. I had to choose to loose control. Yep, I used the “control” word. Isn’t that what we all fear, letting go of control of our perceived safety and instead choosing trust. Everything I value in my life has required taking that step into the dark with trust and believing good things would come.
You see perfection for me isn’t a life without mistakes in which we never suffer, but one in which we fully live in the present and take full advantage of the gift we have to learn and grow. One thing I know for certain is “this too shall pass,” so seize the moment and really take full advantage of your ability to choose what you value now. Perfectionism, and the suffering that perfectionism brings, rejects the present as not being good enough and gets stuck in a cycle of dissatisfaction. We compare ourselves to others and a theoretical best. Reality will always fall short of our theoretical best. If you look at the origin of the word perfect, perfectus, meaning completed or done, you can see that your past is already perfect. Your past can’t be added to or changed, and is compete. All you take from the past is what you learned so you can apply that to your present reality. One of my favorite ideas is this, “a perfectionist pursues perfection, a realist perceives it.” Your perfect moments are all around you, waiting to be seen and courageously embraced. Acceptance of our reality, and fully living in it is not surrender, it’s courage. As you embrace reality, rather than struggle against it, you can apply what you have learned and improve the next moment.
Back to the story at hand… ultimately, I decided I wanted to live without fear and see what came of it more than let it hold me back. It was my perfect moment because it represents the joy that comes from choosing relationship, trust, and courage, over pulling away, distrust, and fear. Remember, “this too shall pass,” and choose to fully embrace the ride of life and all it can teach you. Are you willing to ride up and embrace the fall?
Book referenced – “Present Perfect: a mindfullness approach to letting go of perfectionism & the need for control,” by Pavel Somov, PH.D.